Trip Planning

December 28, 2017

Trip Planning

We have to be at a distant location at a specific window of time on a specific day.  Easy enough, right?  Wrong!  Everything in our house is a sporadic adventure! 

Mom: It’s only an hour and two minute drive.

Christina: Then we leave at 8am.

(We are not supposed to arrive at said location until after 11am.)

Mom: Oh, no.  If we leave by 10, we go right by Grandma’s, pick her up, get lost, make 5 potty stops, and still have enough time to get you there.

Christina: Ahhhh! *facepalm*

(I think my teenager loves me.)

Seriously, I have learned a few things about planning trips with toddlers, teenagers, and husbands:

  • Plan to leave at least a half hour before you need to go (this allows for shoes tossed into the pond, a preteen sleepwalking back to bed four times, finishing any last-minute chore like making the list, and misplacing your keys which are already in the running vehicle)
  • Always pack like you will be gone for a week (diapers, wipes, four spare shirts, at least as many pants as diapers, spare shirts for anyone who may be carrying said baby, carrots and apples so you don’t get trapped by fast-food hunger, and 2 or 3 cases of bottled water should do it)
  • Whatever you do, plan 10 minutes extra to turn around (you forgot something you can’t leave home without – like baby’s special blanket, your toddler’s choice toy, your preteen’s library card, your sanity, or your husband’s totally non-standard phone charger)
  • Remember your wallet! (and make sure some toddler didn’t remove your license because he loves to play with mommy’s picture – that will be the day you will be pulled over for a faulty brake light or an oddly rocking vehicle)
  • Count heads (the children, toddler in carseat, hubby, take the dogs back inside, catch toddler who turned into carseat Houdini, now missing two! Oh yeah, hubby is unlocking the door for one who forgot to go potty)
  • Enjoy your 5 minute shopping trip! (or your entire day of travel)

Bonus fact: Music calms savage beasts and makes your vehicle a noisy dance-while-in-seatbelts rocking machine. Maybe DC Talk, Skillet, and Capital Kings are a bit rocky, but everyone dances to Deadmau5 and Disney.  As long as you have your license, roll down the windows, crank up the music, put on shades, and enjoy the ride!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Small Choices

December 21, 2017

Small Choices

One of the principles I stress as a teacher and parent is personal responsibility.

For me, this means trying to teach that each action, each choice, has either positive or negative consequences.  I also try to teach the importance of following our moral principles when making even the smallest of decisions because even small decisions direct our lives.

When we read fiction (or play strategy board games, watch movies, play role-play story-line video games, etc) it is easier to see the “big picture” of each small decision (when reading or watching a movie, I often yell at the characters when they make a stupid decision and I know it will cause problems – this entertains my children).   I love games like chess, cathedral, Settlers of Catan, and Risk because they teach us to look ahead, plan our strategy, and make small decisions (moves, location of settlements, or deployment of men) to affect the goal (winning the game).

In real life, whatever our age, we often miss the “bigger importance” of an event as we live it.  It is only through reflection (as in the Bible, Mary “ponders in her heart”) that we see our experience in its proper place in the tapestry of our lives.  We sometimes catch a glimpse of the awesome scope of a seemingly simple event in retrospect (a large purchase decision, joining a sport, a move, competing in an event, a new job).  Occasionally, we realize our decision is massive at the time (picking out a pet, choosing a spouse, deciding to start a family).

As young people, we seldom see our “small” choices as momentous.  We don’t often see our choice of high school classes, friends, or activities to be important.  In truth, classes generally pique interests, aim career paths, and influence our college choices.  Friends shape our personality!  Activities often lead us to long term relationships, future business and personal connections, and help shape our character.

When I write stories, I try to hint at the importance of personal decisions.  In Pirate Child, one simple decision by Darren (his decision to treat his “charge” as he would his younger brother) affects Ethan’s entire life.  In Web of Deception, Chloe’s decision to aid and follow Jordan leads to her discovery of her destiny.  In Story From the Inn, Rachel’s choice to help instead of complain (although, it wouldn’t have been in her culture or personality to complain) leads her to being present at a baby’s birth.

Small choices shape our lives.  Sometimes, they help shape the lives of others.  Choose wisely.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Finding Perspective

December 20, 2017

Finding Perspective

One of the most important things for me to find when I’m writing is the perspective of my target audience.

Simply: for whom am I writing?

For Web of Deception, I was writing to the adventurous young adult (myself and my brother), for the Brantley Station Saga, my target is young adults, and my target readers for The Devonians are those in first through fifth grade.  The Funny Sisters stories are written to be read-aloud so they are more complex.  My goal for them is to entertain both the mom or older child reader and the younger preschool or elementary listener.

Story From the Inn was written when one of my girls mentioned, “I wonder what it was like to work at the inn where Jesus was born.”  (We had just watched a show about the culture of Jewish life in Jesus’ time and read through a book about growing up where Jesus lived.)

I imagined the small inn at Bethlehem run by a family (most were in that time) and one daughter (one my girls could relate to) always trying to help yet always getting underfoot.  This became the eyes and ears of my target audience (my little girls).  Children would relate to Rachel and see, hear, and feel that inn, culture, and special event through her eyes.  I dove into some more specific research and developed Rachel’s story of Jesus’ birth as remembered by a beloved grandmother while entertaining several grandchildren awaiting a new baby’s birth.

Rachel epitomized most children: full of life and expectancy, eager to help, longing to please, and constantly asking questions.

In the moment, Rachel doesn’t understand the magnificence of the event, she only feels elated that she gets to help with a birth (something “big”) and hold a newborn baby (for the first time).  As the storyteller, she reflects on this as an adult, to complete the circle.

Check out Story From the Inn to read Rachel’s story!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

New Story Release!

December 17, 2017

New Story Release!

Yippee!  My illustrator team (Christina and Rebeccah) did some awesome cover art (Rebeccah just had to get Tawny perfect) on the newest chapter in the story of The Devonians!

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The Devonians are space castaways who have developed a colony on a strange new planet (they name it Devonia).

This newest story, A Foundling Furball, begins a few days after the end of The Brown-Sheep Prank.  Joseph Taylor, Alena Summers, and some of their siblings are meeting at the fishing spot on Ice Cube Creek after helping with Washing Day (everyone in Covenant, it seems, washes clothes on Wednesday).

While fishing, they chat, argue, and tease each other.  (Not much different than Earth, is it?)  This is until Alena hears a strange noise and investigates.  Joseph joins her.  They find an injured baby animal – which they realize is a dreaded dengee after it is protectively cradled in Alena’s arms.

On Devonia, dengees are formidable foes.  The tallest stand five feet at their shoulder!  They resemble wolves in most of their hunting and communication techniques yet they are ruled by a protective pack male much like a lion pride.  They often raid Covenant’s wachick flocks and Brown-Sheep herd.  Because of a long-ago attack where early settlers were injured and killed by a pack of dengees, most of the adults in the village hate them.

But today, Alena found, Joseph rescued, and Alena claims she will nurse and care for a blind baby dengee.  How will this be received?

For a peek into Devonia, read this excerpt from “A Foundling Furball!

 “Janine!  Keep hold!” Matthew yelped and jumped into the water to grab her fish.  Janine giggled and wrestled the long creature toward the creek bank.  With teamwork, they managed to catch, unhook, and plop the fish into the vine trap. 

“Wow, that one’s way bigger than my best!” Michael grinned, “way to go, Janine!”

“They love the black-spotted grasshoppers,” Janine giggled.  “Thanks for tossing him, Matty!”

Alena set her pole down and wandered toward the far bank.  There was a clump of water-bushes that blocked up the far edge of the fishing spot and tangled in a long stretch about fifty feet down the creek bank.  The children weren’t allowed to go beyond the water bushes. 

“Alena!” Joseph called after her, set his pole down, and followed.

“Joseph!” Stephen taunted, “you go past the water-bushes and I’m telling Dad!”

“What are you doing?” Joseph asked.

“Do you hear it?” Alena returned.  They both ignored Stephen’s threat.

“The crying baby sound?” Joseph did hear it.  It was a soft, watery cry that sounded like a newborn baby’s very tired, almost asleep, “feed-me” cry. 

… (continued reading A Foundling Furball here!  Or browse all titles and formats here!)

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Pictures & Captions 1

December 14, 2017

Some Picture and Captions

Sometimes it’s just fun to look at pictures and make up captions:

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“Unique dirt graffiti” (Drawn on our van rear by Jillian after her first experience of writing the “0” times table.  Plus, there’s the three marks of Arne Saknussemm on the right!)

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“Find the hidden birds” (Rebeccah took this one because a “flock” of birds were in our trees!)

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“Is food ready yet?” (Everyone loves it when this grill is in use!)

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“Roller Dance!” (They use our carport for a roller blade/skate rink.)

 

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“Silly Cousin Games” (Notice Prim covered with the couch blanket?  Anastasia said she was cold & they are playing “Michael Row Your Boat” with the broom as the boat…)

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“Help when Folding Clothes” (This is what happens when imagination runs wild… they said they are wearing “invisible hats.”)

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“Stealing Her Heart” (This was probably the moment when Christina decided to keep Primrose.)

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“Yummy Trees!” (Since Rebeccah was little, our family has called raw broccoli “trees.”  It has always been a favorite vegetable – once it is discovered in the crisper, it usually disappears before dinnertime!)

I’m so thankful for the neat little invention we have called a “camera” because I can capture snapshots of our fun life.  Most of the funniest ones aren’t on film because we are too busy living them.  (Staged funny pictures don’t have the same effect!)  We love to look back at these snapshots and relive the memories with our little stories; it’s neat to hear the story each child has for the pictures!  We all see life from our personal perspective and even among family members the stories will be slightly different since each member has their unique perspective.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Story Release! The Brown-Sheep Prank

December 13, 2017

New Story Release!

There’s a new chapter in the continuing story of the Devonians!  The Devonians are space castaways who have developed a colony on a strange new planet (they name it Devonia).

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The soft-crayon illustration is done by Christina Tart. (She is a published illustrator who wisely takes commission for her work!)

This newest story, The Brown-Sheep Prank, begins the day after the end of Daydreamer. Alena Summers, whose family husbands (takes care of) the village’s herd of Brown-Sheep, is very excited about her second-favorite time – Shearing Day!  (It just so happens, that’s the day covered in the story!)

Alena loves the busy time when all of her neighbors will be gathered at her family’s house, trimming the wool (called Shearing), washing fleeces (a fleece is the wool from one sheep), preparing food (Alena’s job is to assist here), and stacking the finished fleeces in the big barn (this one is shared by the entire village).  The boys and overgrown boys (men) love the table of ready-to-eat food that those on refill duty (Alena and Butterfly) have to keep stocked.

Devonia travels in a longer solar orbit so has the equivalent of 499 Earth days in the Devonian year – so when Alena says “5 years 8 months” it really means “about 7½ Earth years.”  Just a little hint about the world of Devonia!

Now to get an idea of how busy Shearing Day is in Covenant, read this excerpt from “The Brown-Sheep Prank!

Everyone was so busy that Alena had barely stopped moving since Mother had called her away from the Brown-Sheep observation this morning. 

It was nearly lunchtime. 

Alena’s stomach growled. 

“Oh my!” Cried Butterfly in fake shock, “you’d better feed that monster!” 

Alena laughed.  She and Butterfly were on refill duty.  This meant they helped in the kitchen and ran back and forth from the big table refilling the food baskets and bowls.  For Shearing Day, everyone snacked whenever they were hungry from the long table outside.  The unwed boys had brought it over from the meetinghouse before Alena awoke.  She grabbed a carrot stick and quickly ate it.

Alena’s Father and most of the other men plus a few older boys were cutting each Brown-Sheep’s wool close to the skin but taking care not to cut the soft skin.  This was called shearing.  This formed what they called a fleece.  The fleece was the shape of a flat sheep without legs or head.  The Brown-Sheep’s head and legs didn’t have wool like the rest of the body. 

A cluster of two men and three women with a few of the older boys and girls were thoroughly washing each fleece to make sure they would get clean. 

… (continued reading The Brown-Sheep Prank here!)

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

 

Chilly Hill Fun

December 10, 2017

Chilly Hill Fun

We’re usually busy on the weekends.  Because of an unexpected break, we discovered we could go to the bayfront to watch the boats parade by dressed up in Christmas lights.

So, Mom, sisters, cousin, and brother all gathered into the van (we had to go pick one sister up from her event to join us!) and made our way to the free “nights of lights shuttle” parking area.  This was my first time using this service, and it was fantastic!  We arrived at the bus stop (county health department) about 4:30pm.  The girls played “rock, paper, scissors” and softly sang along to the Christmas songs while Lucas announced the passing of every bus, big truck, and string of Christmas lights; usually adding “we on a bus, Mom!”  We were at the parking garage drop off & did the short walk to the fort to arrive just before 5pm.

At that moment, although it was Florida chilly (low 60s) the wind chill wasn’t too bad.  I kept reminding the girls to put on their jackets (which, like most younglings, they had tried to “forget” both at home and in the van).

Four girls and Lucas rolled down the fort hill (Lucas actually rolled in the flat dirt, much to the entertainment of his older sisters), ran about playing some version of “Tag” with any other child who crossed their path, and periodically bounced to the older girls’ perch on the bayfront wall asking, “are the boats coming yet?”

Kimberly, Jaquline, Jillian, and Anastasia spied a Fire Department boat with red lights and a Police boat with blue lights that appeared to be racing!  They each cheered for their favorite color – blue won.  But the red one stayed right in front of our spot so Lucas yelled “Hi, red fire boat!” almost every time he glanced that way for the next 20 minutes.

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Finally, the boats started to line up.  It was nearly 6pm and the temperature was reading low 40s with 30s wind chill!  The girls were huddled together like ducklings next to mom while Louis turned into an “emperor penguin” wind barrier.

The boats were beautiful!  (I have to get a camera that takes good night pictures!  Everything after dark was blurry.)   The first was a pirate ship!  The cannon from the fort fired three shots!  The girls claimed the pirate boat fired back… they were too cold to duck and cover.  Then came the gingerbread-cookie boats.  Anastasia and Jillian decided they tasted good and began to make chomping noises and say “yummy boat” in deep voices.  By the time the neon purple one circled to the far side, the girls were frigid and when Anastasia said, “can we please go to the warm bus?” Lucas added, “bye bye boats!” and we started back.

We also had to get Christina back to CAP before 8pm!

After the fastest .7 mile family walk with Louis timing (aided by a sturdy double stroller), we boarded the warm bus and sang songs while Jillian and Anastasia goofed off and Lucas reminded everyone about each boat he had seen.

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We got Christina back in time.  Before we got home, only Mom and Rebeccah were still awake.  So we will leave you as we snuggle with the sleepies on the couch and start watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” to end our perfect day!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart